Most Viewed Stories
Off-road vehicle enforcement gets a boost with grant funds
BARSTOW - There will soon be two more motorcycles on the road, or off the road, around Barstow patrolling the areas frequented by off-highway vehicle riders.
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to distribute $226,000 in grant funds from the State Department of Parks and Recreation to the Barstow and Victorville sheriff's stations to enforce off-highway vehicle rules.
The county is making OHV enforcement a priority, according to David Zook, a spokesman for County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, for reasons ranging from environmental impacts to noise concerns and issues with off-roaders trespassing on private property. In the first two months of 2008, county code enforcement officers had more than 6,500 contacts with OHV riders, issued 129 warning citations and 109 court citations, Zook said.
"Off-roading is a popular activity here in the desert, and we welcome responsible off-road use," he said. "But unfortunately there are some people that are irresponsible in their off-roading and operate off-highway vehicles in areas that are inappropriate."
The $97,000 in funding earmarked for the Barstow sheriff's station will go to purchase two new dual-sport motorcycles, bikes that can ride both on- and off-road, Sgt. Robbie Ciolli said. The new bikes will join a new Chevrolet Tahoe truck, Rhino trail utility vehicle and 46-foot command post that are coming to the department to join its roster of OHV enforcement equipment.
The grant funding, which comes through a fund created by OHV registration fees, is essential for law enforcement to be able to conduct OHV patrols, Ciolli said.
"Otherwise, the county doesn't give us enough money to go beyond normal patrols," he said.
For the most part, Ciolli said, off-roaders are just out having a good time and following the laws, but problems can arise, particularly when alcohol is involved. He estimated that the Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area saw 15 or more serious injury crashes in the past year. In a month, Ciolli said, Barstow deputies handed out about five citations to off-roaders.
"We have a lot more contacts than that, but we try to maintain good public relations, so usually we'll just issue a warning," he said. "But if we see someone destroying the neighborhood, they're probably going to get a ticket."
In the outlying areas around Barstow, multiple people have complained about off-roaders creating a nuisance through noise and failure to obey traffic laws, he said.
"In the Lenwood and Grandview area, citizens are getting tired of guys riding their dirt bikes down the street, popping wheelies and stuff," he said.
Some of those offenders can expect a ticket once the new motorcycles arrive at the sheriff's station.
Brian Lynn, who owns the Slash X Cafe, a popular hangout spot for off-roaders visiting the Stoddard Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area, said he thinks enforcement of the OHV laws is generally fair. The most common complaint Lynn hears from riders, he said, is that the boundaries of public and private land are unclear. Some private areas where OHV riders used to camp and ride regularly are now being patrolled, leading some off-roaders to complain that the area available to them is shrinking.
"When they come to me, the biggest deal is where does the OHV land start - where is it legal and where is it not?" he said.
That may explain why County Code Enforcement Chief Randy Rogers said the most common complaint his officers deal with is off-roaders straying from permitted public riding areas onto private property.
"Most of the stuff we're seeing is people from out of town coming up that aren't familiar with the area that believe it's open desert, and it should be free to ride on," he said.
Under the county's off-highway vehicle ordinance passed in 2006, riding on private property, riding without a permit or disturbing nearby residents with excessive noise, dust, smoke or fumes, are violations that carry a fine of up to $200 on the first offense. On a fourth offense, violators can face misdemeanor charges and up to $1,000 in fines and 90 days in jail.
Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or firstname.lastname@example.org